A Cabinet minister has attacked Independent TD Luke ‘Ming’ Flanagan, suggesting his actions in having his penalty points quashed have damaged the reputation of politicians in general.
Housing Minister Jan O’Sullivan hit out as the Roscommon–South Leitrim TD faced growing questions over his role in having penalty points wiped from his driving record.
The Labour minister told the Irish Examiner: “I am sick of all politicians being tarred with the same brush by hypocrites like Luke Flanagan.”
Mr Flanagan admitted last week that gardaí wiped two penalty points and a fine after he was caught using his phone in Roscommon.
Mr Flanagan later wrote to gardaí asking that the fine be “waived” and pledging there would be no “repetition” of the offence.
Members of the Dáil Technical Group of Independent TDs have blamed Mr Flanagan for the decline in support seen in the latest polls.
Independent TDs Finian McGrath and John Halligan said Mr Flanagan’s actions had damaged their “brand”, but that there was little they could do to remove him from the 16-member group that was set up to give members similar speaking rights to the large political parties.
Mr Halligan, a TD for Waterford, said that he wanted Mr Flanagan to step aside from the Technical Group. Mr McGrath, from Dublin North Central, agreed with him in comments reported yesterday.
“A lot of us worked hard over the years to build up the Independent brand and a reputation for honesty and integrity. This is giving people an excuse to say ‘Yiz are all the same’,” he said.
The call by the two TDs for Mr Flanagan to step aside from the group follows a drop of three points to 16% in a weekend poll for Independents.
Under Oireachtas rules governing alliances in the Dáil, no TD can be removed from the Technical Group.
It is believed some Independent TDs are plotting a break-away group.
Any such move may be made before June, when leadership of the group may fall to another Independent under a rotating agreement between members.
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